Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A comment on the 'Real Trojan Horse'

I want to reply to a comment that an Anonymous teacher just made to a post of mine from earlier this year,  "The Real Educational Trojan Horse: Deleting Western Civilization 101". This teacher is obvously someone who cares about the students they are teaching, but I think they missed what my post was about - it wasn't about teachers failing to teach, but about the failed materials which they are forced to try and teach from.

Anonymous, this post was not directed towards the teachers, but towards what, how & why it is, that what teachers are having to teach, is being taught at all. Let me put it this way, you mentioned something at the end of your comment, which I believe is absolutely critical, you said:

"Whatever the case may be, when I see them 5, 10, 15 years after the seventh grade, I ask how they are, what they are doing for school/work and most especially....are they remembering the things I tried to instill in them. Being polite, caring, friendly, respectful, responsible....... Thank you."

, which is something that marks You as being a TEACHER, and I thank you for that.

But here's my point, how does something like this:
"The Ancient Greeks believed in many Gods. Zeus was the king of the Gods and was believed to have ruled the world from their home on Mt. Olympus.
Review questions:
1. The king of the Gods was ____ and he lived on ______________."
, help you to teach what you know are to be the most important lessons to be taught? How does being quizzed on a meaningless name and place or date, help to teach that?

How is any child possibly going to pick up an inclination towards, a passion for, a resolve to be, someone who is 'polite, caring, friendly, respectful, responsible', from filling in the blankety-blank space with the most likely word from the sentence above?

What you speak of, teaching a student to be polite, caring, friendly, respectful, responsible, that is the stuff of an actual Education, and it will not, it Cannot, come from this desiccated gray textbook pap peddled as 'educational materials'; any child that does manage learn such things at school, does so not because of the what, how & why's of their particular school district policies, but because some Teacher who actually cares for their students and their responsibility to them, managed to Teach, in spite of the what, how & why's of their school district policies.

The entire point of Homer, was to teach. To teach how to live and why, and through imaginative plot and action, the Iliad teaches that above all; it teaches how 'God like Achilles' was brought face to face, by the staying hand of reason, with the uselessness of his glory, brought to the realization that great and fearsome as he was, if blustering Agamemnon could take from him who he loved, then he had nothing; and that his last nod to that glory cost him the life of his dearest friend Patroclus, and then he had less than nothing left, but rage at life itself.

And of 'man-killing Hector', who loved his wife and his dearest son, and knew himself and they were soon to be lost, and yet he had to do what must be done nonetheless.

And Priam, a king and a father, who lost several sons and his dearest son Hector, to Achilles, had to bend his knee to the man who killed them, in order to retrieve his body and bury him properly, before the loss of all he had spent his life in building. And to 'Godlike' Achilles, that and all else broke in on him at that moment, quenched his rage, and brought back his humanity to him, his own loss, and the importance of repaying the sorrow of the old king with decency and respect and generosity because that was truly all that mattered and was worthy of glory.

Homer, despite the teaching of some fools, did not glorify war, the Iliad reads far more like something written from the Vietnam era, than a gung-ho WWII movie, it teaches - if its story is allowed to be fully communicated, rather than chopped into freeze dried spoonful’s - the importance of "being polite, caring, friendly, respectful, responsible", and what the world is like with and without those lessons being learned (BTW, this is one of the better books, certainly of any modern book, on The Iliad that I've read: "The War That Killed Achilles").

The fact that Teachers such as yourself are deprived of the best materials ever conceived for your purposes, and instead must find some way to manage to teach such things Despite the materials, purposes and motives of their 'curriculum', which is the real Trojan Horse, and an epic tragedy all its own.


Joan of Argghh! said...

and what the world is like with and without those lessons being learned

Young people today can't imagine horror as a reality. It's just a movie they can turn off. Horror is losing one's iPhone or being unfriended. We've done them no favors in shielding them with fantasy.

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